Part 3 out of 5
"I think I have it," he announced, rising. "You say that the men
are drinking heavily. That should materially assist us."
She asked him what plan he had conceived, but he urged that time
pressed; she should know presently; meanwhile, she had best return
immediately to her carriage. He went to the door to call Guyot,
but she stayed him.
"No, no, Monsieur,"she exclaimed. "I will not pass through the
common-room again in that fellow's company. They are all in there,
carousing, and - and I dare not."
As if to confirm her words, now that he held the door open, he
caught some sounds of mirth and the drone of voices from below.
"Come with me, then,"said he, taking up one of the candles. "I will
Together they descended the narrow staircase, La Boulaye going first,
to guide her, since two might not go abreast. At the foot there
was a door, which he opened, and then, at the end of a short passage
- in which the drone of voices sounded very loud and in particular
one, cracked voice that was raised in song - they gained the door of
the common-room. As La Boulaye pushed it open they came upon a
scene of Bacchanalian revelry. On a chair that had been set upon
the table they beheld Mother Capoulade enthroned like a Goddess of
Liberty, and wearing a Phrygian cap on her dishevelled locks. Her
yellow cheeks were flushed and her eyes watery, whilst hers was the
crazy voice that sang.
Around the table, in every conceivable attitude of abandonment, sat
Captain Charlot's guard - every man of the ten - and with them the
six men and the corporal of La Boulaye's escort, all more or less
in a condition of drunkenness.
"Le jour de gloire est arrive?" sang the croaking voice of Dame
Capoulade, and there it stopped abruptly upon catching sight of La
Boulaye and his companion in the doorway. Mademoiselle shivered
out of loathing; but La Boulaye felt his pulses quickened with hope,
for surely all this was calculated to assist him in his purpose.
At the abrupt interruption of the landlady's version of the
"Marseillaise "the men swung round, and upon seeing the Deputy they
sought in ludicrous haste to repair the disorder of their appearance.
"So!" thundered Caron. "This is the watch you keep? This is how
you are to be trusted? And you, Guyot," he continued, pointing his
finger at the man. "Did I not bid you await my orders? Is this
how you wait? You see that I am compelled to reconduct the
Citoyenne myself, for I might have called you in vain all night."
Guyot came forward sheepishly, and a trifle unsteady in his gait.
"I did not hear you call, Citizen," he muttered.
"It had been a miracle if you had with this din," answered La Boulaye.
"Here, take the Citoyenne back to her carriage."
Obediently Guyot led the Citoyenne across the room and out into the
courtyard, and the men, restrained by La Boulaye's severe presence,
dared scarcely so much as raise their eyes to her as she passed out.
"And now to your posts," was Caron's stern command. "By my soul,
if you were men of mine I would have you flogged for this. Out with
you!" And he pointed imperiously to the door.
"It is a bitter night, Citizen," grumbled one of them.
"Do you call yourself soldiers, and does a touch of frost make
cowards of you? Outside, you old wives, at once! I'll see you at
your post before I go to bed."
And with that he set himself to drive them out, and they went, until
none but his own half-dozen remained. These he bade dispose
themselves about the hearth, in which they very readily obeyed him.
On a side-table stood a huge steaming can which had attracted La
Boulaye's attention from the moment that he had entered the room.
He went to peer into this, and found it full almost to the brim of
mulled red wine.
With his back to those in the room, so as to screen his actions, he
had uncorked the phial as he was approaching the can. Now, as he
made pretence first to peer into it and then to smell its contents,
he surreptitiously emptied the potion into it, wondering vaguely to
himself whether the men would ever wake again if they had drunk it.
Slipping the phial into his sash he turned to Mother Capoulade, who
had descended from the table and stood looking very foolish.
"What is this?" he demanded angrily.
"It was a last cup of wine for the men," she faltered. "The night
is bitterly cold, Citizen," she added, by way of excusing herself.
"Bah!" snarled Caron, and for a moment he stood there as if
deliberating. "I am minded to empty it into the kennel," he
"Citizen!" cried the woman, in alarm. "It is good wine, and I have
"Well," he relented, "they may have it. But see that it is the last
And with that he strode across the room, and with a surly "Good-night"
to his men, he mounted the stairs once more.
He waited perhaps ten minutes in the chamber above, then he went to
the casement, and softly opened the window. It was as he expected.
With the exception of the coach standing in the middle of the yard,
and just discernible by the glow of the smouldering fire they had
built there but allowed to burn low, the place was untenanted.
Believing him to have retired for the night, the men were back again
in the more congenial atmosphere of the hostelry, drinking themselves
no doubt into a stupor with that last can of drugged wine. He sat
down to quietly mature his plans, and to think out every detail of
what he was about to do. At the end of a half-hour, silence reigning
throughout the house, he rose. He crept softly into Charlot's
chamber and possessed himself of the Captain's outer garments. These
he carried back to the sitting-room, and extracted from the coat
pocket two huge keys tied together with a piece of string. He never
doubted that they were the keys he sought, one opening the stable
door and the other the gates of the porte-cochere.
He replaced the garments, and then to make doubly sure, he waited
yet - in a fever of impatience - another half-hour by his watch.
It wanted a few minutes to midnight when, taking up his cloak and
a lantern he had lighted, he went below once more. In the
common-room he found precisely the scene he had expected. Both
Charlot's men and his own followers lay about the floor in all
conceivable manner of attitudes, their senses locked deep in the
drunken stupor that possessed them. Two or three had remained
seated, and had fallen across the table, when overcome. Of these
was Mother Capoulade, whose head lay sideways on her curled arms,
and from whose throat there issued a resonant and melodious snore.
Most of the faces that La Boulaye could see were horribly livid
and bedewed with sweat, and again it came into his mind to wonder
whether he had overdone things, and they would wake no more. On
the other hand, an even greater fear beset him, that the drug might
have been insufficient. By way of testing it, he caught one fellow
who lay across his path a violent kick in the side. The man grunted
in his sleep, and stirred slightly, to relapse almost at once into
his helpless attitude, and to resume his regular breathing, which
the blow had interrupted.
La Boulaye smiled his satisfaction, and without further hesitancy
passed out into the yard. He had yet a good deal to say to
Mademoiselle, but he could not bring himself to speak to her before
her mother, particularly as he realised how much the Marquise might
be opposed to him. He opened the carriage door.
"Mademoiselle," he called softly, "will you do me the favour to
alight for an instant? I must speak to you."
"Can you not say what you have to say where you are?" came the
"No, Madame," answered La Boulaye coldly, "I cannot."
"Oh, it is 'Madame' and 'Mademoiselle' now, eh? What have you done
to the man, child, to have earned us so much deference."
"May I remind Mademoiselle," put in La Boulaye firmly, "that time
presses, and that there is much to be done?"
"I am here, Monsieur" she answered, as without more ado, and heedless
of her mother's fresh remarks, she stepped from the carriage.
La Boulaye proffered his wrist to assist her to alight, then reclosed
the door, and led her slowly towards the stable.
"Where are the soldiers?" she whispered.
"Every soul in the inn is asleep," he answered. "I have drugged
them all, from the Captain down to the hostess. The only one left
is the ostler, who is sleeping in one of the outhouses here. Him
you must take with you, not only because it is not possible to drug
him as well, but also because the blame of your escape must rest on
someone, and it may as well rest on him as another."
"But why not on you?"she asked.
"Because I must remain."
"Ah!" It was no more than a breath of interrogation, and her face
was turned towards him as she awaited an explanation.
"I have given it much thought, Suzanne, and unless someone remains
to cover, as it were, your retreat, I am afraid that your flight
might be vain, and that you would run an overwhelming risk of
recapture. You must remember the resourcefulness of this fellow,
Tardivet, and his power in the country here. If he were to awake
to the discovery that I had duped him, he would be up and after us,
and I make little doubt that it would not be long ere he found the
scent and ran us to earth. Tomorrow I shall discover your flight
and the villainy of the ostler, and I shall so organise the pursuit
that you shall not be overtaken."
There was a moment's pause, during which La Boulaye seemed to expect
some question. But none came, so he proceeded:
"Your original intention was to make for Prussia, where you say that
your father and your brother are awaiting you."
"Yes, Monsieur. Beyond the Moselle - at Treves."
"You must alter your plans," said he shortly. "Your mother, no
doubt, will insist upon repairing thither, and I will see that the
road is left open for her escape. At Soignies you, Suzanne, can
hire yourself a berline, that will take you back to France."
"Back to France?" she echoed.
"Yes, back to France. That is the unlikeliest road on which to
think of pursuing you, and thus you will baffle Charlot. Let your
mother proceed on her journey to Prussia, but tell her to avoid
Charleroi, and to go round by Liege. Thus only can she hope to
escape Tardivet's men that are patrolling the road from France.
As for you, Suzanne, you had best go North as far as Oudenarde, so
as to circumvent the Captain's brigands on that side. Then make
straight for Roubaix, and await me at the 'Hotel des Cloches.' "
"But, Monsieur, I shudder at the very thought of re-entering France."
"As Mademoiselle de Bellecour, a proscribed aristocrat, that is
every reason for your fears. But I have given. the matter thought
and I can promise you that as the Citoyenne La Boulaye, wife of the
Citizen-deputy Caron La Boulaye, you will be as safe as I should be
myself, if you are questioned, and, in response, you will find
nothing but eagerness to serve you on every hand."
She spoke now of the difficulties her mother would make, but he
dismissed the matter by reminding her that her mother could not
detain her by force. Again she alluded to her dowry, but that also
he dismissed, bidding her leave it behind. Her family would need
the money, to be realised by the jewels. As for herself, he assured
her that as his wife she would not want, and showed her how idle
was her dread of living in France.
"And now, Mademoiselle," he said, more briskly, "let us see to this
He opened the door of the outhouse, and uncovering his lantern he
raised it above his head. Its yellow light revealed to them a
sleeper on the straw in a corner. La Boulaye entered and stirred
the man with his foot.
The fellow sat up blinking stupidly and dragging odd wisps of straw
from his grey hair.
"What's amiss?"he grunted.
As briefly as might be La Boulaye informed him that he was to receive
a matter of five hundred francs if he would journey into Prussia with
the ci-devant Marquise de Bellecour.
Five hundred francs? It was a vast sum, the tenth of which had never
been his at any one time of his wretched life. For five hundred
francs he would have journeyed into Hades, and La Boulaye found him
willing enough to go to Prussia, and had no need to resort to the
more forcible measures he had come prepared to employ.
Accompanied by the ostler, they now passed to the stables, and when
La Boulaye had unlocked the door and cut the bonds that pinioned
the Marquis's coachman, they got the horses, and together they
harnessed them as quietly as might be.
Then working with infinite precaution, and as little sound as
possible, they brought them out into the yard and set them in the
shafts of the carriage. The rest was easy work, and a quarter of
an hour later the heavy vehicle rumbled through the porte-cochere
and started on its way to Soignies.
La Boulaye dropped the keys into a bucket and went within. In the
common-room nothing had changed, and the men lay about precisely
as he had left them. Reassured, he went above and took a peep at
the Captain, whom he found snoring lustily.
Satisfied that all was well, Caron passed quietly to his own chamber,
and with an elation of soul such as had never been his since boyhood,
he fell asleep amid visions of Suzanne and the new life he was to
enter upon in her sweet company.
La Boulaye awakened betimes next morning. It may be that the matter
on his mind and the business that was toward aroused him; certainly
it was none of the sounds that are common to an inn at early morn,
for the place was as silent as a tomb.
Some seconds he remained on his back, staring at the whitewashed
ceiling and listening to the patter of the rain against his window.
Then, as his mind gathered up the threads of recollection, he leapt
from his bed and made haste to assume a garment or two.
He stood a moment at his casement, looking out into the empty
courtyard. From a leaden sky the rain was descending in sheets, and
the gargoyle at the end of the eaves overhead was discharging a
steady column of water into the yard. Caron shivered with the cold
of that gloomy February morning, and turned away from the window.
A few moments later he was in Tardivet's bedchamber, vigorously
shaking the sleeping Captain.
"Up, Charlot! Awake!" he roared in the man's ear.
"What o'clock?" he asked with a yawn. Then a sudden groan escaped
him, and he put his hand to his head. "Thousand devils!" he swore,
"what a headache!"
But La Boulaye was not there on any mission of sympathy, nor did
he waste words in conveying his news.
"The coach is gone,"he announced emphatically.
"Coach? What coach?" asked the Captain, knitting his brows.
"What coach?" echoed La Boulaye testily. "How many coaches were
there? Why, the Bellecour coach; the coach with the treasure."
At that Charlot grew very wide-awake. He forgot his headache and
his interest in the time of day.
"Gone?" he bellowed. "How gone? Pardieu, it is not possible!"
"Look for yourself,"was La Boulaye's answer as he waved his hand in
the direction of the window. "I don't know what manner of watch
your men can have kept that such a thing should have come about.
Probably, knowing you ill a-bed, they abused the occasion by getting
drunk, and probably they are still sleeping it off. The place is
But Tardivet scarcely heard him. From his window he was staring
into the yard below, too thunderstruck by its emptiness to even have
recourse to profanity. Stable door and porte-cochere alike stood
open. He turned suddenly and made for his coat. Seizing it, he
thrust his hand in one pocket after another. At last:
"Treachery!" he cried, and letting the garment fall to the ground,
he turned upon La Boulaye a face so transfigured by anger that it
looked little like the usually good-humoured countenance of Captain
Tardivet "My keys have been stolen. By St. Guillotine, I'll have
the thief hanged."
"Did anybody know that the keys were in your pocket?" asked the
"I told you last night."
"Yes, yes; I remember that. But did anybody else know?"
"The ostler knew. He saw me lock the doors."
"Why, then, let us find the ostler," urged Caron. "Put on some
clothes and we will go below."
Mechanically Charlot obeyed him, and as he did so he gave his
feelings vent at last. From between set teeth came now a flow of
oaths and imprecations as steady as the flow of water from the
At last they hastened down the stairs together, and in the
common-room they found the sleeping company much as La Boulaye had
left it the night before. In an access of rage at what he saw,
and at the ample evidences of the debauch that had reduced them to
this condition, Charlot began by kicking the chair from under Mother
Capoulade. The noise of her fall and the scream with which she
awoke served to arouse one or two others, who lifted their heads
to gaze stupidly about them.
But Charlot was busy stirring the other slumberers. He had found
a whip, and with this he was now laying vigorously about him.
"Up, you swine!" he blazed at them. "Afoot, you drunken scum!"
His whip cracked, and his imprecations rang high and lurid. And La
Boulaye assisted him in his labours with kicks and cuffs and a
tongue no less vituperative.
At last they were on their feet - a pale, bewildered, shamefaced
company - receiving from the infuriated Charlot the news that
whilst they had indulged themselves in their drunken slumbers their
prisoners had escaped and carried off the treasure with them. The
news was received with a groan of dismay, and several turned to
the door to ascertain for themselves whether it was indeed exact.
The dreary emptiness of the rain-washed yard afforded them more than
"Where is your pig of an ostler, Mother Capoulade?" demanded the
Quivering with terror, she answered him that the rascal should be
in the shed by the stables, where it was his wont to sleep. Out
into the rain, despite the scantiness of his attire, went Charlot,
followed closely by La Boulaye and one or two stragglers. The
shed proved empty, as Caron could have told him - and so, too, did
the stables. Here, at the spot where Madame de Bellecour's coachman
had been left bound, the Captain turned to La Boulaye and those
others that had followed him.
"It is the ostler's work," he announced. "There was knavery and
treachery writ large upon his ugly face. I always felt it, and this
business proves how correct were my instincts. The rogue was bribed
when he discovered how things were with you, you greasy sots. But
you, La Boulaye," he cried suddenly, "were you drunk, too?"
"Not I," answered the Deputy.
"Then, name of a name, how came that lumbering coach to leave the
yard without awakening you?"
"You ask me to explain too much," was La Boulaye's cool evasion.
"I have always accounted myself a light sleeper, and I could not
have believed that such a thing could really have taken place
without disturbing me. But the fact remains that the coach has
gone, and I think that instead of standing here in idle speculation
as to how it went, you might find more profitable employment in
considering how it is to brought back again. It cannot have gone
If any ray of suspicion had begun to glimmer in Charlot's brain,
that suggestion of La Boulaye's was enough to utterly extinguish it.
They returned indoors, and without more ado Tardivet set himself to
plan the pursuit. He knew, he announced, that Prussia was their
destination. He had discovered it at the time of their capture from
certain papers that he had found in a portmanteau of the Marquise's.
He discussed the matter with La Boulaye, and it was now that Caron
had occasion to congratulate himself upon his wisdom in having
elected to remain behind.
The Captain proposed to recall the fifty men that were watching the
roads from France, and to spread them along the River Sambre, as far
as Liege, to seek information of the way taken by the fugitives. As
soon as any one of the parties struck the trail it was to send word
to the others, and start immediately in pursuit.
Now, had Charlot been permitted to spread such a net as this, the
Marquise must inevitably fall into it, and Caron had pledged his
word that she should have an open road to Prussia. With a map
spread upon the table he now expounded to the Captain how little
necessity there was for so elaborate a scheme. The nearest way to
Prussia was by Charleroi, Dinant, and Rochefort, into Luxembourg,
and - he contended - it was not only unlikely, but incredible, that
the Marquise should choose any but the shortest road to carry her
out of Belgium, seeing the dangers that must beset her until the
frontiers of Luxembourg were passed.
"And so,"argued La Boulaye, "why waste time in recalling your men?
Think of the captives you might miss by such an act! It were
infinitely better advised. to assume that the fugitives have taken
the Charleroi-Dinant road, and to despatch, at once, say,
half-a-dozen men in pursuit."
Tardivet pondered the matter for some moments.
"Yom are right," he agreed at last. "If they have resolved to
continue their journey, a half-dozen men should suffice to recapture
them. I will despatch these at once... "
La Boulaye looked up at that.
"If they have resolved to continue their journey?" he echoed. "What
else should they have resolved?"
Tardivet stroked his reddish hair and smiled astutely.
"In organising a pursuit,"aid he, "the wise pursuer will always put
himself in the place of the fugitives, and seek to reason as they
would probably reason. Now, what more likely than that these ladies,
or their coachman, or that rascally ostler, should have thought of
doubling back into France? They might naturally argue that we;
should never think of pursuing them in that direction. Similarly
placed, that is how I should reason, and that is the course I should
adopt, making for Prussia through Lorraine. Perhaps I do their
intelligences too much honour - yet, to me, it seems such an obvious
La Boulaye grew cold with apprehension. Yet impassively he asked:
"But what of your men who are guarding the frontiers?"
"Pooh! A detour might circumvent them. The Marquise might go as
far north as Roubaix or Comines, or as fair south as Rocroy, or even
Charlemont. Name of a name, but it is more than likely!" he
exclaimed, with sudden conviction. "What do you say, Caron?"
"That you rave,"answered La Boulaye coldly.
"Well, we shall see. I will despatch a message to my men, bidding
them spread themselves as far north as Comiines and as far south as
Charlemont. Should the fugitives have made such a detour as I
suggested there will be ample time to take them."
La Boulaye still contemned the notion with a fine show of
indifference, but Tardivet held to his purpose, and presently
despatched the messengers as he had proposed. At that Caron felt
his pulses quickening with anxiety for Mademoiselle. These astute
measures must inevitably result im her capture - for was it not at
Roubaix that he had bidden her await him? There was but one thing
to be done, to ride out himself to meet her along the road from
Soignies to Oudenarde, and to escort her into France. She should
go ostensibly as his prisoner, and he was confident that not all
the brigands of Captain Tardivet would suffice to take her from him.
Accordingly, he announced his intention of resuming his interrupted
journey, and ordered his men to saddle and make ready. Meanwhile,
having taken measures to recapture the Marquise should she have
doubled back into France, Charlot was now organising an expedition
to scour the road to Prussia, against the possibility of her having
adhered to her original intention of journeying that way. Thus he
was determined to take no risks, and leave her no loophole of escape.
Tardivet would have set himself at the head of the six horsemen of
this expedition, but that La Boulaye interfered, and this time to
some purpose. He assured the Captain that he was still far from
recovered, and that to spend a day in the saddle might have the
gravest of consequences for him.
"If the occasion demanded it," he concluded, "I should myself urge
you to chance the matter of your health. But the occasion does not.
The business is of the simplest, and your men can do as much without
you as they could with you."
Tardivet permitted himself to be persuaded, and Caron had again good
cause to congratulate himself that he had remained behind to
influence him. He opined that the men, failing to pick up the trail
at Charleroi, would probably go on as far as Dinant before abandoning
the chase; then they would return to Boisvert to announce their
failure, and by that time it would be too late to reorganise the
pursuit. On the other hand, had Tardivet accompanied them, upon
failing to find any trace of the Marquise at Charleroi, La Boulaye
could imagine him pushing north along the Sambre, and pressing the
peasantry into his service to form an impassable cordon.
And so, having won his way in this at least, and seen the six men
set out under the command of Tardivet's trusted Guyot, Caron took
his leave of the Captain. He was on the very point of setting out
when a courier dashed up to the door of the "Eagle," and called for
a cup of wine. As it was brought him he asked the hostess whether
the Citizen-deputy La Boulaye, Commissioner to the army of Dumouriez,
had passed that way. Upon being informed that the Deputy was even
then within the inn, the courier got down from his horse and
demanded to be taken to him.
The hostess led him into the common-room, and pointed out the
Deputy. The courier heaved a sigh of relief, and removing his
sodden cloak he bade the landlady get it dried and prepare him as
stout a meal as her hostelry afforded.
"Name of a name!" he swore, as he pitched his dripping hat into a
corner. "But it is good to find you at last, Citizen-deputy? I
had expected to meet you at Valenciennes. But as you were not there,
and as my letters were urgent, I have been compelled to ride for the
past six hours through that infernal deluge. Enfin, here you are,
and here is my letter - from the Citizen-deputy Maximilien
Robespierre - and here I'll rest me for the next six hours."
Bidding the fellow by all means rest and refresh himself, La Boulaye
broke the seal, and read the following:
My courier should deliver you this letter as you are on the Point
of reentering France, on your return from the mission which you
have discharged with so much glory to yourself and credit to me
who recommended you for the task. I make you my compliments on
the tact and adroitness you have employed to bring this stubborn
Dumouriez into some semblance of sympathy with the Convention.
And now, my friend, I have another task for you, which you can
discharge on your homeward journey. You will make a slight detour,
passing into Artois and riding to the Chateau d'Ombreval, which is
situated some four miles south of Arras. Here I wish you not only
to Possess yourself of the person of the ci-devant Vicomte
d'Ombreval, bringing him to Paris as your Prisoner, but further,
to make a very searching investigation of that aristocrat's papers,
securing any documents that you may consider of a nature
treasonable to the French Republic, One and Indivisible.
The letter ended with the usual greetings and Robespierre's signature.
La Boulaye swore softly to himself as he folded the epistle.
"It seems," he muttered to Charlot, "that I am to turn catch-poll in
the service of the Republic."
"To a true servant of the Nation," put in the courier, who had
overheard him, "all tasks that may tend to the advancement of the
Republic should be eagerly undertaken. Diable! Have not I ridden
in the rain these six hours past?"
La Boulaye paid no heed to him; he was too inured to this sort of
insolence since the new rule had levelled all men. But Charlot
turned slowly to regard the fellow.
He was a tall man of rather slender stature, but indifferently
dressed in garments that were splashed from head to foot with mud,
and from which a steam was beginning to rise as he stood now with
his back to the fire. Charlot eyed him so narrowly that the fellow
shifted his position and dropped his glance in some discomfort.
His speech, though rough of purport, had not been ungentle of
delivery. But his face was dirty - the sure sign of an ardent
patriot - his hair hung untidy about his face, and he wore that
latest abomination of the ultra-revolutionist, a dense black beard
"My friend," said Charlot, "although we are ready to acknowledge
you our equal, we should like you to understand that we do not take
lessons in duty even from our equals. Bear you that in mind if you
seek to have a peaceful time while you are here, for it so happens
that I am quartered at this inn, and have a more important way with
me than this good-natured Deputy here."
The fellow darted Charlot a malevolent glance.
"You talk of equality and you outrage equality in a breath," he
growled. "I half suspect you of being a turncoat aristocrat." And
he spat ostentatiously on the ground.
"Suspect what you will, but voice no suspicions here, else you'll
become acquainted with the mighty short methods of Charlot Tardivet.
And as for aristocrats, my friend, there are none so rabid as the
newly-converted. I wonder how long it is since you became a patriot?"
Before the fellow could make any answer the corporal in command of
La Boulaye's escort entered to inform Caron that the men were in the
At that the Deputy hurriedly took his leave of Tardivet, and wrapping
his heavy cloak tightly about him he marched out into the rain, and
A few moments later they clattered briskly out of Boisvert, the thick
grey mud flying from their horses' hoofs as they went, and took the
road to France. For a couple of miles they rode steadily along under
the unceasing rain and in the teeth of that bleak February wind.
Then at a cross-road La Boulaye unexpectedly called a halt.
"My friends," he said to his escort, "we have yet a little business
to discharge in Belgium before we cross the frontier."
With that he announced his intention of going North, and so briskly
did he cause them to ride, that by noon - a short three hours after
quitting Boisvert - they had covered a distance of twenty-five miles,
and brought up their steaming horses before the Hotel de Flandres
At this, the only post-house in the place, La Boulaye made inquiries
as to whether any carriage had arrived from Soignies that morning,
to receive a negative answer. This nowise surprised him, for he
hardly thought that Mademoiselle could have had time to come so
far. She must, however, be drawing nearer, and he determined to
ride on to meet her. From Leuze to Soignies is a distance of some
eight or nine leagues by a road which may roughly be said to be
the basis of a triangle having its apex at Boisvert.
After his men had hurriedly refreshed themselves, La Boulaye ordered
them to horse again, and they now cantered out, along this road, to
Soignes. But as mile after mile was covered without their coming
upon any sign of such a carriage as Mademoiselle should be travelling
in, La Boulaye almost unconsciously quickened the pace until in the
end they found themselves careering along as fast as their jaded
horses would bear them, and speculating mightily upon the Deputy's
Soignies itself was reached towards four o'clock, and still they
had not met her whom La Boulaye expected. Here, in a state of some
wonder and even of some anxiety, Caron made straight for the Auberge
des Postes. Bidding his men dismount and see to themselves and
their beasts, he went in quest of the host, and having found him,
bombarded him with questions.
In reply he elicited the information that at noon that day a
carriage such as he described had reached Soignies in a very sorry
condition. One of the wheels had come off on the road, and although
the Marquise's men had contrived to replace it and to rudely secure
it by an improvised pin, they had been compelled to proceed at a
walk for some fifteen miles of the journey, which accounted for the
lateness of their arrival at Soignies. They had remained at the
Auberge des Postes until the wheel had been properly mended, and it
was not more than an hour since they had resumed their journey along
the road to Liege.
"But did both the citoyennes depart?" cried La Boulaye, in amazement,
and upon receiving an affirmative reply it at once entered his mind
that the Marquise must have influenced her daughter to that end
- perhaps even employed force.
"Did there appear to be any signs of disagreement between them?"
was his next question.
"No, Citizen, I observed nothing. They seemed in perfect accord."
"The younger one did not by any chance inquire of you whether it
would be possible to hire a berline?" asked Caron desperately.
"No," the landlord answered him, with wondering eyes. "She appeared
as anxious as her mother for the repairing of the coach in which
they came, that they might again depart in it."
La Boulaye stood a moment in thought, his brows drawn together, his
breathing seeming suspended, for into his soul a suspicion had of a
sudden been thrust - a hideous suspicion. Abruptly he drew himself
up to the full of his active figure, and threw back his head, his
"Can I have fresh horses at once?" he inquired. "I need eight."
The landlord thoughtfully scratched his head.
"You can have two at once, and the other six in a half-hour."
"Very well," he answered. "Saddle me one at once, and have the
other seven ready for my men as soon as possible."
And whilst the host sent the ostler to execute the order, Caron
called for a cup of wine and a crust of bread. Munching his crust
he entered the common-room where his men were at table with a
steaming ragout before them.
"Garin," he said to the corporal, "in a half-hour the landlord will
be able to provide you with fresh horses. You will set out at once
to follow me along the road to Liege. I am starting immediately."
Garin, with the easy familiarity of the Republican soldier, bade
him take some thought of his exhausted condition, and snatch at
least the half-hour's rest that was to be theirs. But La Boulaye
was out of the room before he had finished. A couple of minutes
later they heard a clatter of departing hoofs, and La Boulaye was
gone along the road too Liege in pursuit of the ladies of Bellecour.
THE ROAD TO LIEGE
"Of what are you thinking, little fool?" asked the Marquise
peevishly, her fat face puckered into a hundred wrinkles of
"Of nothing in particular, Madame,"the girl answered patiently.
The Marquise sniffed contemptuously, and glanced through the window
of the coach upon the dreary, rain sodden landscape.
"Do you call the sometime secretary Citizen-cutthroat La Boulaye,
nothing in particular?" she asked. "Ma foi! I wonder that you do
not die of self-contempt after what passed between you at Boisvert."
"Madame, I was not thinking of him," said Suzanne.
"More shame to you, then," was the sour retort, for the Marquise
was bent upon disagreeing with her. "Have you a conscience, Suzanne,
that you could have played such a Delilah part and never give a
thought to the man you have tricked?"
"You will make me regret that I told you of it," said the girl
"You are ready enough to regret anything but the act itself. Perhaps
you'll be regretting that you did not take a berline at Soignies, as
you promised the citizen-scoundrel that you would, and set out to
"It is hardly generous to taunt me so, Madame, I do very bitterly
regret what has taken place. But you might do me the justice to
remember that what I did I did as much for others as for myself.
As much, indeed, for you as for myself."
"For me?" echoed the Marquise shrilly. "Tiens, that is droll now!
For me? Was it for me that you made love to the citizen-blackguard?
Are you so dead to shame that you dare remind me of it?"
Mademoiselle sighed, and seemed to shrink back into the shadows of
the carriage. Her face was very pale, and her eyes looked sorely
"It is something that to my dying day I shall regret,"she murmured.
"It was vile, it was unworthy! Yet if I had not used the only weapon
to my hand - " She ceased, the Marquise caught the sound of a sob.
"What are you weeping for, little fool?" she cried.
"As much as anything for what he must think of me when he realises
how shamefully I have used him."
"And does it matter what the canaille thinks? Shall it matter what
the citizen-assassin thinks?"
"A little, Madame," she sighed. "He will despise me as I deserve.
I almost wish that I could undo it, and go back to that little room
at Boisvert. the prisoner of that fearful man, Tardivet, or else
that - " Again she paused, and the Marquise turned towards her
with a gasp.
"Or else that what?" she demanded. "Ma foi, it only remains that
you should wish you had kept your promise to this scum."
"I almost wish it, Madame. I pledged my word to him."
"You talk as if you were a man," said her mother; "as if your word
was a thing that bound you. It is a woman's prerogative to change
her mind. As for this Republican scum - "
"You shall not call him that," was the rejoinder, sharply delivered;
for Suzanne was roused at last. "He is twenty times more noble and
brave than any gentleman, that I have ever met. We owe our liberty
to him at this moment, and sufficiently have I wronged him by my
actions - "
"Fool, what are you saying?" cried the enraged Marquise. "He, more
noble and brave than any gentleman that you ever met? He - this
kennel-bred citizen-ruffian of a revolutionist? Are you mad, girl,
or - " The Marquise paused a moment and took a deep breath that
was as a gasp of sudden understanding. "Is it that you are in love
with this wretch!"
"Madame!" The exclamation was laden with blended wonder, dignity,
"Well?" demanded Madame de Bellecour severely. "Answer me, Suzanne.
Are you in love with this La Boulaye?"
"Is there the need to answer?" quoth the girl scornfully. "Surely
you forget that I am Mademoiselle de Bellecour, daughter of the
Marquise de Bellecour, and that this man is of the canaille, else
you had never asked the question."
With an expression of satisfaction the Marquise was sinking back in
the carriage, when of a sudden she sat bolt upright.
"Someone is riding very desperately," she cried, a note of alarm
ringing in her voice.
Above the thud of the coach-horses' hoofs and the rumble of their
vehicle sounded now the clatter of someone galloping madly in their
wake. Mademoiselle looked from the window into the gathering dusk.
"It will be some courier, Madame," she answered calmly. "None other
would ride at such a pace."
"I shall know no rest until we are safely in a Christian country
again," the Marquise complained.
The hoof-beats grew nearer, and the dark figure of a horseman dashed
suddenly past the window. Simultaneously, a loud, harsh command to
halt rang out upon the evening air.
The Marquise clutched at her daughter's arm with one hand, whilst
with the other she crossed herself, as though their assailant were
some emissary of the powers of evil.
"Mother in Heaven, deliver us!" she gasped, turning suddenly devout.
"Mon Dieu!" cried Mademoiselle, who had recognised the voice that
was now haranguing the men on the box - their driver and the ostler
of the 'Eagle Inn.' "It is La Boulaye himself."
"La Boulaye?"echoed the Marquise. Then, in a frenzy of terror:
"There are the pistols there, Suzanne," she cried. "You can shoot.
Kill him! Kill him!"
The girl's lips came tightly together until her mouth seemed no more
than a straight line. Her cheeks grew white as death, but her eyes
were brave and resolute. She put forth her hand and seized one of
the pistols as the carriage with a final jolt came to a standstill.
An instant later the door was dragged open, and La Boulaye stood
bowing in the rain with mock ceremoniousness and a very contemptuous
smile on his stern mouth. He had dismounted, and flung the reins of
his horse over the bough of a tree by the roadside. The Marquise
shuddered at sight of him, and sought to shrink farther back into
the cushions of the carriage.
"Citoyenne," he was saying, very bitterly, "when I made my compact
with you yesternight, I did not reckon upon being compelled to ride
after you in this fashion. I have some knowledge of the ways of
your people, of their full words and empty deeds; but you I was fool
enough to trust. By experience we learn. I must ask you to alight,
"To what purpose, Monsieur?" she asked, in a voice which she strove
to render cold and steady.
"To the purpose that your part of the bargain be carried out. Your
mother and your treasure were to find their way into Prussia upon
condition that you return with me to France."
"It was a bargain of coercion, Monsieur," she answered attempting to
brazen it out. "I was a woman in a desperate situation."
"Surely your memory is at fault, Citoyenne," he answered, with a
politeness that was in itself a mockery.
"Your situation was so little desperate that I had offered to effect
the rescue both of your mother and yourself without asking any
guerdon. Your miserable treasure alone it was that had to be
sacrificed. You will recall that the bargain was of your own
There was a pause, during which he stood waiting for her reply.
Her blue eyes made an attempt to meet his steady gaze, but failed.
Her bosom rose and fell in the intensity of her agitation.
"I was a woman distraught, Monsieur. Surely you will not hold me
to words uttered in an hour of madness. It was a bargain I had no
right to make, for I am no longer free to dispose of myself. I am
betrothed to the Vicomte Anatole d'Ombreval. The contract has
already been signed, and the Vicomte will be meeting us at Treves."
It was as if she had struck him, and amazement left him silent a
moment. In a dim, subconscious way he seemed to notice that the
name she mentioned was that of the man he was bidden to arrest.
Then, with an oath:
"I care naught for that," he cried. "As God lives, you shall
fulfil your word to me."
"Monsieur, I refuse," she answered, with finality. "Let me request
you to close the door and suffer us to proceed."
"Your mother and your treasure may proceed - it was thus we
bargained. But you shall come with me. I will be no girl's dupe,
no woman's fool, Citoyenne."
When he said that he uttered the full truth. There was no love in
his voice or in his heart at that moment. Than desire of her
nothing was further from his mind. It was his pride that was up in
arms, his wounded dignity that cried out to him to avenge himself
upon her, and to punish her for having no miserably duped him. That
she was unwilling to go with him only served to increase his purpose
of taking her, since the more unwilling she was the more would she
"Citoyenne, I am waiting for you to alight," he said peremptorily.
"Monsieur, I am very well as I am," she answered him, and leaning
slightly from the coach - "Drive on, Blaise," she commanded.
But La Boulaye cocked a pistol.
"Drive so much as a yard," he threatened. "and I'll drive you to
the devil." Then, turning once more to Suzanne: "Never in my life,
Citoyenne have I employed force to a woman," he said. "I trust that
you will not put me to the pain of commencing now."
"Stand back, Monsieur," was her imperious answer. But heedless he
advanced, and thrusting his head under the lintel of the carriage
door he leaned forward, to seize her. Then, before he could so
much as conjecture what she was about, her hand went up grasping a
heavy horse-pistol by the barrel, and she brought the butt of it
down with a deadly precision between his brows.
He reeled backwards, threw up his arms, and measured his length in
the thick grey mud of the road.
Her eyes had followed him with a look of horror, and until she saw
him lying still on his back did she seem to realise what she had done.
"My dear, brave girl," murmured her mother's voice but she never
heard it. With a sob she relaxed her grasp of the pistol and let it
fall from the carriage.
"Shall I drive on, Mademoiselle?" inquired Blaise from the box.
But without answering him she had stepped down into the mud, and was
standing bare-headed in the rain beside the body of Caron.
Silently, she stooped and groped for his heart. It was beating
vigorously enough, she thought. She stooped lower and taking him
under the arms, she half bore, half dragged him to the side of the
road, as if the thin, bare hedge were capable of affording him
shelter. There she stood a moment looking down at him. Then with
a sob she suddenly stooped, and careless of the eyes observing her,
she kissed him full upon the mouth.
A second later she fled like a frightened thing back to the carriage,
and, closing the door, she called in a strangled voice too drive on.
She paid little heed to the praise that was being bestowed upon her
by her mother - who had seen nothing of the kiss. But she lay back
in her corner of the coach, and now her lashes were wet at the
thought of Caron lying out there in the road. Now her cheeks grew
red with shame at the thought that she, the nobly-born Mademoiselle
de Bellecour, should have allowed even pity to have so far overcome
her as to have caused her to touch with her lips the lips of a
It was well for La Boulaye that he had tethered his horse to a tree
before approaching the coach. That solitary beast standing by the
roadside in the deepening gloom attracted the attention of his
followers, when - a half-hour or so later - they rode that way, making
for Liege, as La Boulaye had bidden them.
At their approach the animal neighed, and Garin, hearing the sound,
reined in and peered forward into the gloom, to descry the horse's
head and back outlined above the blur of the hedge. His men halted
behind him whilst he approached the riderless beast and made - as
well as he could in the darkness - an examination of the saddle.
One holster he found empty, at which he concluded that the rider,
whoever he had been, had met with trouble; from the other he drew a
heavy pistol, which, however, gave him no clue.
"Get down," he ordered his men," and search the roads hereabouts.
I'll wager a horse to a horseshoe that you will find a body
He was obeyed, and presently a cry from one of the searchers
announced a discovery. It was succeeded by another exclamation.
"Sacre nom!" swore the trooper. "It is the Citizen-deputy!"
In an instant Garin had leapt to the ground and with the others
crowding about him, their bridles over their arms and their horses
in a bunch behind them, he was bending under the dripping hedge to
examine the body that lay supine in the sodden road. A vigorous
oath escaped him when he assured himself that it was indeed La
"Is he dead?" cried the men in chorus.
"No - not dead" grumbled the corporal. "But there is a lump on his
brow the size of an egg, and God knows how long he has been lying
here in this bed of mud."
They had no restoratives, and the only thing was to convey him to
the nearest habitation and demand shelter. They held a short council
on the matter, and in the end Garin bade four of them take him up
and carry him in a cloak. Some two miles back they had passed a
house, and thither the corporal now bade them retrace their steps.
They made an odd procession; first went two mounted troopers leading
the horses of the others, then the four on foot, carrying the Deputy
in a cloak, and lastly, Garin riding in the rear.
In this manner they went back along the dark road, and for close
upon a half-hour - for their progress was slow - they trudged along
in silence. At last there was a short exclamation from one of the
riders, as half a mile away an illuminated window beamed invitingly.
Encouraged by it, they quickened their steps a little. But almost
at the same time La Boulaye stirred on the cloak, and the men who
carried him heard him speak. At first it was an incoherent mutter,
then his words came more distinctly.
"Hold! Where are you carrying me? Who the devil are you?"
It was Garin's voice that came instantly to reassure him. Caron
essayed to sit up, but finding it impracticable, he shortly bade
his men set him down. They halted. Garin dismounted and came to
the Deputy's side, and it was found that his condition was none so
grave after all, for he was able to stand unaided. When, however,
he attempted to walk, he reeled, and would of a certainty have
fallen, but that Garin put out his arm to support him.
"Steady there, Citizen," the corporal admonished him.
"Get my horse!" he commanded briefly.
"But, name of a name! you are not fit to ride," Garin protested.
La Boulaye, however, would listen to no reason. With the recovery
of his faculties came the consideration of how miserably Suzanne had
duped him, and of how she had dealt with him when he had overtaken
her. He burned now to be avenged, and at all costs he would ride
after and recapture her. He announced, therefore, to the corporal
that they must push on to Liege. Garin gasped at his obstinacy,
and would have sought to have dissuaded him, but that La Boulaye
turned on him with a fierceness that silenced his expostulations.
It was left to Nature to enforce what Garin could not achieve. When
La Boulaye came to attempt to mount he found it impossible. He was
stiff and numb from his long exposure in the rain, and when he moved
with any vigour his head swam dizzily and throbbed with pain.
At last he was forced to realise - with inward girding - that he
must relinquish his determination, and he acknowledged himself ready
to take the corporal's advice and make for the house whose lighted
window shone like a beacon in the darkness that had descended. He
even allowed them to prevail upon him to lie down in the cloak again,
and thus they carried him the remainder of the way. In his heart he
still bore the hope that short rest, restoratives, and fresh clothes
would fit him for the pursuit once more, and that if he set out
within the next few hours he might yet come up with Mademoiselle
before she had passed beyond his reach. Should the morning still
find him unequal to the task of going after her, he would despatch
Garin and his men.
At last they reached the cottage - it was little more - and Garin
rapped on the door with his whip. It was opened by a woman, who
told them, in answer to the corporal's request for shelter, that
her husband was from home, and that she had no accommodation for
them. It would seem that the woman had housed soldiers of the
Republic before, and that her experiences had not been of a nature
calculated to encourage her in the practice. But La Boulaye now
staggered forward and promised her generous payment if she would
"Payment?" she cried. "In worthless assignats that nobody will take
from me. I know the ways of you."
"Not in assignats," La Boulaye promised her, "but in coin."
And having mollified her somewhat with that assurance, he proceeded
to urge her to admit them. Yonder was a shed where the horses could
be stabled for the night. But still the woman demurred.
"I lack the room," she said, with some firmness.
"But at least," put in Garin, "you could house the Citizen here.
He has been hurt, and he is scarcely able to stand. Come, woman,
if you will consent to that, we others can lie with the horses in
This in the end they gained by renewed promises of good payment.
She brewed a broth for them, and for La Boulaye she found a suit
of her absent husband's clothes, whilst his own wet garments were
spread to dry before the fire. Some brandy, too, she found and
brought him, and the draught did much to restore him.
When they had supped, Garin and the troopers withdrew to the
outhouse, leaving La Boulaye in sole possession of the cottage
hearth. And there, in a suit of the absent farmer's grey homespun,
his legs encased in coarse woollen stockings and sabots upon his
feet, sat the young Deputy alone with his unpleasant thoughts. The
woman had brought him a pipe, and, although the habit was foreign
to him as a rule, he had lighted it and found the smoking somewhat
soothing. Ruefully he passed his hand across his bandaged brow,
and in pondering over all that had taken place since yesternight
at Boisvert, his cheeks grew flushed at once with anger and with
"To have been so duped!"
And now - his mind growing clearer as he recovered in vigour - it
occurred to him that by to-morrow it would be too late to give
pursuit. Once she crossed the Sambre at Liege, or elsewhere, who
could tell him by what road she would elect to continue her journey?
He had not sufficient men at his disposal to send out parties along
each of the possible roads. That her ultimate destination was
Treves he knew. But once there she was beyond his reach, at safety
from the talons of the French Republic.
He sat on and thought, what time his brows came closer together and
his teeth fastened viciously upon the stem of the pipe. By the
table sat the woman, knitting industriously, and ever and anon
glancing inquiry at her stern, thoughtful guest, and the click of
her needles was the only sound that disturbed the stillness of the
room. Outside the wind was wailing like the damned, and the rain
which had recommenced with new vigour, rattled noisily upon the
Suddenly above the din of the elements a shout sounded in the night.
The Deputy raised his head, and glanced towards the woman. A moment
later they heard the gate creak, and steps upon the path that led
to the cottage door.
"Your husband?" inquired La Boulaye.
"No, monsieur. He has gone to Liege, and will not return until
to-morrow. I do not know who it can be."
There was alarm on her face, which La Boulaye now set himself to
"At least you are well protected, Citoyenne. My men are close at
hand, and we can summon them if there be the need."
Reassured she rose, and at the same moment a knock sounded on the
door. She went to open it, and from his seat by the hearth La
Boulaye heard a gentle, mincing voice that was oddly familiar to
"Madame," it said, "we are two poor, lost wayfarers, and we crave
shelter for the night. We will pay you handsomely."
"I am desolated that I have no room, Messieur," she answered, with
"Pardi!" interpolated another voice. "We need no room. A bundle of
straw and a corner is all we seek. Of your charity, Madame, is this
a night on which to leave a dog out of doors?"
A light of recollection leaped suddenly to La Boulaye's eyes, and
with a sudden gasp he stooped to the hearth.
"But I cannot, Messieurs," the woman was saying, when the second
voice interrupted her.
"I see your husband by the fire, Madame. Let us hear what he has
The woman coloured to the roots of her hair. She stepped back a
pace, and was about to answer them when, chancing to glance in La
Boulaye's direction, she paused. He had risen, and was standing with
his back to the fire. There was a black smudge across his face,
which seemed to act as a mask, and his dark eyes glowed with an
intensity of meaning which arrested her attention, and silenced the
answer which was rising to her lips.
In the brief pause the new-comers had crossed the threshold, and
stood within the rustic chamber. The first of these was he whose
gentle voice La Boulaye had recognised - old M. des Cadoux, the
friend of the Marquis de Bellecour. His companion, to the Deputy's
vast surprise, was none other than the bearded courier who had that
morning delivered him at Boisvert the letter from Robespierre.
What did these two together, and upon such manifest terms of
equality? That, it should be his business to discover.
"Come in, Messieurs," he bade them, assuming the role of host. "We
are unused to strangers, and Mathilde there is timid of robbers.
Draw near the fire and dry yourselves. We will do the best we can
for you. We are poor people, Messieurs; very poor."
"I have already said that we will pay you handsomely my friend,"
quoth Des Cadoux, coming forward with his companion. "Do your best
for us and you shall not regret it. Have you aught to eat in the
The woman was standing by the wall, her face expressing bewilderment
and suspicion. Suspicious she was, yet that glance of La Boulaye's
had ruled her strangely, and she was content to now await developments.
"We will see what we can do," answered La Boulaye, as he made room
for them by the hearth. "Come, Mathilde, let us try what the larder
"I am afraid that Madame still mistrusts us," deplored Des Cadoux.
La Boulaye laughed for answer as he gently but firmly drew her
towards the door leading to the interior of the house. He held it
for her to pass, what time his eyes were set in an intent but
puzzled glance upon the courier. There was something about the man
that was not wholly strange to La Boulaye. That morning, when he
had spoken in the gruff accents of one of the rabble, no suspicion
had entered the Deputy's mind that he was other than he seemed, for
all that he now recalled how Tardivet had found the fellow's
patriotism a little too patriotic. Now that he spoke in the voice
that was naturally usual to him, it seemed to La Boulaye that it
contained a note that he had heard before.
Still puzzled, he passed out of the room to be questioned sharply
by the woman of the house touching his motives for passing himself
off as her husband and inviting the new-comers to enter.
"I promise you their stay will be a very brief one," he answered.
"I have suspicions to verify the ends to serve, as you shall see.
Will you do me the favour to go out by the back and call my men?
Tell the corporal to make his way to the front of the house, and
to hold himself in readiness to enter the moment I call him."
"What are you about to do?" she asked and the face, as he saw it by
the light of the candle she held, wore an expression of sullen
He reassured her that there would be no bloodshed, and suggested
that the men were dangerous characters whom it might be ill for her
to entertain. And so at last he won his way, and she went to do
his errand, whilst he reentered the kitchen
He found Des Cadoux by the fire, intent upon drying as much of
himself as possible. The younger man had seized upon the bottle
of brandy that had been left on the table, and was in the act of
filling himself a second glass. Nothing could be further from
the mind of either than a suspicion of the identity of this
rustically-clad and grimy-faced fellow.
"Mathilde will be here in a moment," said Caron deferentially.
"She is seeking something for you."
Had he told them precisely what she was seeking they had been,
possibly, less at ease.
"Let her hasten," cried the courier, "for I am famished."
"Have patience, Anatole," murmured the ever-gentle Cadoux. "The
good woman did not expect us."
Anatole! The name buzzed through Caron's brain. To whom did it
belong? He knew of someone who bore it. Yet question himself
though he might, he could at the moment find no answer. And then
the courier created a diversion by addressing him.
"Fill yourself a glass, mon bonhomme," said he. "I have a toast
"For me, Monsieur," cried La Boulaye, with surprised humility. "It
were too great an honour."
"Do as you are bidden, man," returned this very peremptory courier.
"There; now let us see how your favour runs. Cry 'Long Live the King!'"
Holding the brandy-glass, which the man had forced upon him, La
Boulaye eyed him whimsically for a second.
"There is no toast I would more gladly drink," said he at last, "if
I considered it availing. But - alas - you propose it over-late."
"Diable! What may you mean?"
"Why, that since the King is dead, it shall profit us little to cry,
'Long Live the King!'"
"The King, Monsieur, never dies," said Cadoux sententiously.
"Since you put it so, Monsieur," answered La Boulaye, as if convinced,
"I'll honour the toast." And with the cry they asked of him he
drained his glass.
"And so, my honest fellow," said Des Cadoux, producing his eternal
snuff-box, "it seems that you are a Royalist. We did but test you
with that toast, my friend."
"What should a poor fellow know of politics, Messieurs?" he
deprecated. "These are odd times. I doubt me the world has never
seen their like. No man may safely know his neighbour. Now you,
sir," he pursued, turning to the younger man," you have the air of
a sans-culotte, yet from your speech you seem an honest enough
The fellow laughed with unction.
"The air of a sans-culotte?" he cried. "My faith, yes. So much so,
that this morning I imposed myself as a courier from Paris upon no
less an astute sleuth-hound of the Convention than the Citizen-deputy
"Is it possible?" cried Caron, his eyes opening wide in wonder. "But
how, Monsieurs? For surely a courier must bear letters, and - "
"So did I, so did I, my friend," the other interrupted, with vain
glory. "I knocked a patriotic courier over the head to obtain them.
He was genuine, that other courier, and I passed myself out of France
with his papers."
"Monsieur is amusing himself at the expense of my credulity," La
"My good man, I am telling you facts," the other insisted.
"But how could such a thing be accomplished?" asked Caron, seating
himself at the table, and resting his chin upon his hand, his gaze
so full of admiration as to seem awestruck.
"How? I will tell you. I am from Artois."
"You'll be repeating that charming story once too often," Des Cadoux
"Pish, you timorous one!" he laughed, and resumed his tale. "I am
from Artois, then. I have some property there, and it lately came
to my ears that this assembly of curs they call the Convention had
determined to make an end of me. But before they could carry out
their design, those sons of dogs, my tenants, incited by the choice
examples set them by other tenantry, made a descent on my Chateau
one night, and did themselves the pleasure of burning it to the
ground. By a miracle I escaped with my life and lay hidden for
three weeks in the house of an old peasant who had remained faithful.
In that time I let my beard grow, and trained my hair into a
patriotic unkemptness. Then, in filthy garments, like any true
Republican, I set out to cross the frontier. As I approached it,
I was filled with fears that I might not win across, and then, in
the moment of my doubtings, I came upon that most opportune of
couriers. I had the notion to change places with him, and I did.
He was the bearer of a letter to the Deputy La Boulaye, of whom you
may have heard, and this letter I opened to discover that it charged
him to effect my arrest."
If La Boulaye was startled, his face never betrayed it, not by so
much as the quiver of an eyelid. He sat on, his jaw in his palm,
his eyes admiringly bent upon the speaker.
"You may judge of my honesty, and of how fully sensible I was of the
trust I had undertaken, when I tell you that with my own hand I
delivered the letter this morning to that animal La Boulaye at
Boisvert." He seemed to swell with pride in his achievement.
"Diable!" he continued. "Mine was a fine piece of acting. I would
you could have seen me play the part of the patriot. Think of the
irony of it! I won out of France with the very papers ordering my
arrest. Ma foi! You should have seen me befool that dirt of a
deputy! It was a performance worthy of Talma himself." And he
looked from Cadoux to La Boulaye for applause.
"I doubt not," said the Deputy coldly. "It must have been worth
witnessing. But does it not seem a pity to spoil everything and to
neutralise so wonderful an achievement for the mere sake of boasting
of it to a poor, ignorant peasant, Monsieur le Vicomte Anatole
With a sudden cry, the pseudo courier leapt to his feet, whilst Des
Cadoux turned on the stool he occupied to stare alarmedly at the
"Name of God! Who are you?" demanded Ombreval advancing a step.
With his sleeve La Boulaye rubbed part of the disfiguring smear from
his face as he stood up and made answer coolly:
"I am that dirt of a Deputy whom you befooled at Boisvert." Then,
raising his voice, "Garin!" he shouted, and immediately the door
opened and the soldiers filed in.
Ombreval stood like a statue, thunderstruck with amazement at this
most unlooked-for turning of the tables, his face ashen, his weak
mouth fallen open and his eyes fearful.
Des Cadoux, who had also risen, seemed to take in the situation at
a glance. Like a well-bred gamester who knows how to lose with a
good grace the old gentleman laughed drily to himself as he tapped
"We are delightfully taken, cher Vicomte," he murmured, applying the
tobacco to his nostril as he spoke. "It's odds you won't be able to
repeat that pretty story to any more of your friends. I warned you
that you inclined to relate it too often."
With a sudden oath, Ombreval - moved to valour by the blind rage
that possessed him - sprang at La Boulaye. But, as suddenly, Garin
caught his arms from behind and held him fast.
"Remove them both," La Boulaye commanded. "Place them in safety for
the night, and see that they do not escape you, Garin, as you value
Des Coudax shut his snuff-box with a snap.
"For my part, I am ready, Monsieur - your pardon - Citizen," he
said, "and I shall give you no trouble. But since I am not, I take
it, included in the orders you have received, I have a proposal to
make which may prove mutually convenient."
"Pray make it, Citizen," said La Boulaye.
"It occurs to me that it may occasion you some measure of annoyance
to carry me all the way to Paris - and certainly, for my part, I
should much prefer not to undertake the journey. For one thing, it
will be fatiguing, for another, I have no desire to look upon the
next world through the little window of the guillotine. I wish,
then, to propose, Citizen," pursued the old nobleman, nonchalantly
dusting some fragments of tobacco from his cravat. "that you deal
with me out of hand."
"How, Citizen?" inquired La Boulaye.
"Why, your men, I take it are tolerable marksmen. I think that it
might prove more convenient to both of us if you were to have me
shot as soon as there is light enough."
La Boulaye's eyes rested in almost imperceptible kindness upon Des
Cadoux. Here, at least, was an aristocrat with a spirit to be
admired and emulated.
"You are choosing the lesser of two evils, Citizen," said the Deputy.
"Precisely," answered Des Cadoux.
"But possibly, Citizen, it may be yours to avoid both. You shall
hear from me in the morning. I beg that you will sleep tranquilly
in the meantime. Garin, remove the prisoners."
LA BOULAYE BAITS HIS HOOK
For fully an hour after their prisoners had been removed La Boulaye
paced the narrow limits of the kitchen with face inscrutable and
busy mind. He recalled what Suzanne had said touching her betrothal
to Ombreval, whom she looked to meet at Treves. This miserable
individual, then, was the man for whose sake she had duped him. But
Ombreval at least was in Caron's power, and it came to him now that
by virtue of that circumstance he might devise a way to bring her
back without the need to go after her. He would send her word - aye,
and proof - that he had taken him captive, and it should be hers to
choose whether she would come to his rescue and humble herself to
save him or leave him to his fate. In that hour it seemed all one
to La Boulaye which course she followed, since by either, he
reasoned, she must be brought to suffer. That he loved her was
with him now a matter that had sunk into comparative insignificance.
The sentiment that ruled his mind was anger, with its natural
concomitant - the desire to punish.
And when morning came the Deputy's view of the situation was still
unchanged. He was astir at an early hour, and without so much as
waiting to break his fast, he bade Garin bring in the prisoners.
Their appearance was in each case typical. Ombreval was sullen
and his dress untidy, even when allowance had been made for the
inherent untidiness of the Republican disguise which he had adopted
to so little purpose. Des Cadoux looked well and fresh after his
rest, and gave the Deputy an airy "Good morning" as he entered. He
had been at some pains, too, with his toilet, and although his hair
was slightly disarranged and most of the powder was gone from the
right side, suggesting that he had lain on it, his appearance in
the main was creditably elegant.
"Citizen Ombreval," said La Boulaye, in that stern, emotionless
voice that was becoming characteristic of him, "since you have
acquainted yourself with the contents of the letter you stole from
the man you murdered, you cannot be in doubt as to my intentions
The Vicomte reddened with anger.
"For your intentions I care nothing," he answered hotly - rendered
very brave by passion - "but I will have you consider your words.
Do you say that I stole and murdered? You forget, M. le Republican,
that I am a gentlemen."
"Meaning, of course, that the class that so described itself could
do these things with impunity without having them called by their
proper names, is it not so? But you also forget that the Republic
has abolished gentlemen, and with them, their disgraceful privileges."
"Canaille!" growled the Vicomte, his eyes ablaze with wrath.
"Citizen-aristocrat, consider your words!" La Boulaye had stepped
close up to him, and his voice throbbed with a sudden anger no whit
less compelling than Ombreval's. "Fool! let me hear that word again,
applied either to me or to any of my followers, and I'll have you
beaten like a dog."
And as the lesser ever does give way before the greater, so now did
the anger that had sustained Ombreval go down and vanish before the
overwhelming passion of La Boulaye. He grew pale to the lips at
the Deputy's threat, and his eyes cravenly avoided the steady gaze
of his captor.
"You deserve little consideration at my hands, Citizen," said La
Boulaye, more quietly," and yet I have a mind to give you a lesson
in generosity. We start for Paris in half-an-hour. If anywhere
you should have friends expecting you, whom you might wish to
apprise of your position, you may spend the half-hour that is left
in writing to them. I will see that your letter reaches its
Ombreval's pallor seemed to intensify. His eyes looked troubled as
they were raised to La Boulaye's. Then they fell again, and there
was a pause. At last -
"I shall be glad to avail myself of your offer," he said, in a voice
that for meekness was ludicrously at variance with his late
"Then pray do so at once." And La Boulaye took down an inkhorn
a quill, and a sheaf of paper from the mantel-shelf behind him.
These he placed on the table, and setting a chair, he signed to the
aristocrat to be seated.
"And now, Citizen Cadoux," said La Boulaye, turning to the old
nobleman, "I shall be glad if you will honour me by sharing my
breakfast while Citizen Ombreval is at his writing."
Des Cadoux looked up in some surprise.
"You are too good, Monsieur," said he, inclining his head. "But
"I have decided," said La Boulaye, with the ghost of a smile, "to
deal with your case myself, Citizen."
The old dandy took a deep breath, but the glance of his blue eyes
was steadfast, and his lips smiled as he made answer:
"Again you are too good. I feared that you would carry me to Paris,
and at my age the journey is a tiresome one. I am grateful, and
meanwhile, - why, since you are so good as to invite me, let us
breakfast, by all means."
They sat down at a small table in the embrasure of the window, and
their hostess placed before them a boiled fowl, a dish of eggs, a
stew of herbs, and a flask of red wine, all of which La Boulaye had
bidden her prepare.
"Why, it is a feast," declared Des Cadoux, in excellent humour, and
for all that he was under the impression that he was to die in
half-an-hour he ate with the heartiest good-will, chatting pleasantly
the while with the Republican - the first Republican with whom it had
ever been his aristocratic lot to sit at table. And what time the
meal proceeded Ombreval - with two soldiers standing behind his
chair-penned his letter to Mademoiselle de Bellecour.
Had La Boulaye - inspired by the desire to avenge himself for the
treachery of which he had been the victim - dictated that epistle,
t could not have been indicted in a manner better suited to his ends.
It was a maudlin, piteous letter, in which, rather than making his
farewells, the Vicomte besought the aid of Suzanne. He was, he
wrote, in the hands of men who might be bribed, and since she was
rich - for he knew of the treasure with which she had escaped - he
based his hopes upon her employing a portion of her riches to
obtaining his enlargement. She, he continued, was his only hope,
and for the sake of their love, for the sake of their common
nobility, he besought her not to fail him now. Carried away by
the piteousness of his entreaties the tears welled up to his eyes
and trickled down his cheeks, one or two of them finding their
way to the paper thus smearing it with an appeal more piteous still
if possible than that of his maudlin words.
At last the letter was ended. He sealed it with a wafer and wrote
"To Mademoiselle de Bellecour. At the 'Hotel des Trois Rois,'
He announced the completion of his task, and La Boulaye bade him go
join Des Cadoux at the next table and take some food before setting
out, whilst the Deputy himself now sat down to write.
"Citoyenne,' he wrote, "the man to whom you are betrothed, for whose
sake you stooped to treachery and attempted murder, is in my hands.
Thus has Heaven set it in my power to punish you, if the knowledge
that he travels to the guillotine is likely to prove a punishment.
If you would rescue him, come to me in Paris, and, conditionally,
I may give you his life."
That, he thought should humble her. He folded his letter round
Ombreval's and having sealed the package, he addressed it as Ombreval
had addressed his own missive.
"Garin," he commanded briefly, "remove the Citizen Ombreval."
When he had been obeyed, and Garin had conducted the Vicomte from
the room, La Boulaye turned again to Des Cadoux. They were alone,
saving the two soldiers guarding the door.
The old man rose, and making the sign of the cross, he stepped
forward, calm and intrepid of bearing.
"Monsieur," he announced to La Boulaye, who was eyeing him with the
faintest tinge of surprise, "I am quite ready."
"Have you always been so devout, Citizen?" inquired the Deputy.
"Alas! no Monsieur. But there comes a time in the life of every
man when, for a few moments at least, he is prone to grow mindful
of the lessons learnt in childhood."
The surprise increased in La Boulaye's countenance. At last he
shrugged his shoulders, after the manner of one who abandons a
problem that has grown too knotty.
"Citizen des Cadoux," said he, "I have deliberated that since I
have received no orders from Paris concerning you, and also since
I am not by profession a catch-poll there is no reason whatever why
I should carry you to Paris. In fact, Citizen, I know of no reason
why I should interfere with your freedom at all. On the contrary
when I recall the kindness you sought to do me that day, years ago,
at Bellecour, I find every reason why I should further your escape
from the Revolutionary tribunal. A horse, Citizen, stands ready
saddled for you, and you are free to depart, with the one condition,
however, that you will consent to become my courier for once, and
carry a letter for me - a matter which should occasion you, I think,
no deviation from your journey."
The old dandy, in whose intrepid spirit the death which he had
believed imminent had occasioned no trembling, turned pale as La
Boulaye ceased. His blue eyes were lifted almost timidly to the
Deputy's face, and his lip quivered.
"You are not going to have me shot, then?" he faltered.
"Shot?" echoed La Boulaye, and then he remembered the precise words
of the request which Des Cadoux had preferred the night before, but
which, at the time, he had treated lightly. "Ma foi, you do not
flatter me!" he cried. "Am I a murderer, then? Come, come,
Citizen, here is the letter that you are to carry. It is addressed
to Mademoiselle de Bellecour, at Treves, and encloses Ombreval's
farewell epistle to that lady."
"But, gladly, Monsieur," exclaimed Des Cadoux.
And then, as if to cover his sudden access of emotion, of which he
was most heartily ashamed, he fumbled for his snuff-box, and,
having found it, he took an enormous pinch.
They parted on the very best of terms did these two - the aristocrat
and the Revolutionary - actuated by a mutual esteem tempered in each
case with gratitude.
When at last Des Cadoux had taken a sympathetic leave of Ombreval
and departed, Caron ordered the Vicomte to be brought before him
again, and at the same time bade his men make ready for the road.
"Citizen," said La Boulaye, "we start for Paris at once. If you
will pass me your word of honour to attempt no escape you shall
travel with us in complete freedom and with all dignity."
Ombreval looked at him with insolent surprise, his weak supercilious
mouth growing more supercilious even than its wont. He had recovered
a good deal of his spirit by now.
"Pass you my word of honour?" he echoed. "Mon Dieu! my good fellow
a word of honour is a bond between gentlemen. I think too well of
mine to pass it to the first greasy rascal of the Republic that
asks it of me."
La Boulaye eyed him a second with a glance before which the
aristocrat grew pale, and already regretted him of his words. The
veins in the Deputy's temples were swollen.
"I warned you," said he, in a dull voice. Then to the soldiers
standing on either side of Ombreval - "Take him out," he said,
"mount him on horseback. Let him ride with his hands pinioned
behind his back, and his feet lashed together under the horse's
belly. Attend to it!"
"Monsieur," cried the young man, in an appealing voice," I will give
you my word of honour not to escape. I will - "
"Take him out," La Boulaye repeated, with a dull bark of contempt.
"You had your chance, Citizen-aristocrat."
Ombreval set his teeth and clenched his hands.
"Canaille!" he snarled, in his fury.
"Hold!" Caron called after the departing men.
They obeyed, and now this wretched Vicomte, of such unstable spirit
dropped all his anger again, as suddenly as he had caught it up.
Fear paled his cheek and palsied his limbs once more, for La
Boulaye's expression was very terrible.
"You know what I said that I would have done to you if you used that
word again?" La Boulaye questioned him coldly.
"I - I was beside myself, Monsieur," the other gasped, in the
intensity of his fear. And at the sight of his pitiable condition
the anger fell away from La Boulaye, and he smiled scornfully.
"My faith," he sneered. "You are hot one moment and cold the next.
Citizen, I am afraid that you are no better than a vulgar coward.
Take him away," he ended, waving his hand towards the door, and as
he watched them leading him out he reflected bitterly that this was
the man to whom Suzanne was betrothed - the man whom, not a doubt
of it, she loved, since for him she had stooped so low. This
miserable craven she preferred to him, because the man, so ignoble
of nature, was noble by the accident of birth.
THE EVERLASTING RULE
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below and saints above,
For love is Heaven and Heaven is love.
The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
In his lodgings at the corner of the Rue-St. Honore and the Rue
de la Republique - lately changed, in the all-encompassing
metamorphosis, from "Rue Royale" sat the Deputy Caron La Boulaye
at his writing-table.
There was a flush on his face and a sparkle in the eyes that looked
pensively before him what time he gnawed the feathered end of his
quill. In his ears still rang the acclamations that had greeted
his brilliant speech in the Assembly that day. He was of the party
of the Mountain - as was but natural in a protege of the Seagreen
Robespierre - a party more famed for its directness of purpose than
elegance of expression, and in its ranks there was room and to spare
for such orators as he. The season was March of '93 - a season
marked by the deadly feud raging 'twixt the Girondins and the
Mountain, and in that battle of tongues La Boulaye was covering
himself with glory and doing credit to his patron, the Incorruptible.
He was of a rhetoric not inferior to Vergniaud's - that most eloquent
Girondon - and of a quickness of wit and honesty of aim unrivalled
in the whole body of the Convention, and with these gifts he harassed
to no little purpose those smooth-tongued legislators of the Gironde,
whom Dumouriez called the Jesuits of the Revolution. His popularity
with the men of the Mountain and with the masses of Paris was growing
daily, and the crushing reply he had that day delivered to the
charges preferred by Vergniaud was likely to increase his fame.
Well, therefore, might he sit with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes
chewing the butt of his pen and smiling to himself at the memory of
the enthusiasm of which he had been the centre a half-hour ago.
Here, indeed, was something that a man might live for, something
that a man might take pride in, and something that might console a
man for a woman's treachery. What, indeed, could woman's love give
him that might compare with this? Was it not more glorious far to
make himself the admired, the revered, the very idol of those stern
men, than the beloved of a simpering girl? The latter any coxcomb
with a well-cut coat might encompass, but the former achievement
was a man's work.
And yet, for all that he reasoned thus speciously and philosophically,
there was a moment when his brow grew clouded and his eyes lost their
sparkle. He was thinking of that night in the inn at Boisvert, when
he had knelt beside her and she had lied to him. He was thinking of
the happiness, that for a few brief hours had been his, until he
discovered how basely she had deceived him, and for all the
full-flavour of his present elation it seemed to him that in that
other happiness which he now affected to despise by contrast, there
had dwelt a greater, a more contenting sweetness.
Would she come to Paris? He had asked himself that question every
day of the twenty that were spent since his return. And in the
meantime the Vicomte d'Ombreval lay in the prison of the Luxembourg
awaiting trial. That he had not yet been arraigned he had to thank
the efforts of La Boulaye. The young Deputy had informed Robespierre
that for reasons of his own he wished the ci-devant Vicomte, to be
kept in prison some little time, and the Incorruptible, peering at
him over his horn-rimmed spectacles, had shrugged his shoulders and
"But certainly, cher Caron, since it is your wish. He will be safe
in the Luxembourg."
He had pressed his protege for a reason, but La Boulaye had evaded
the question, promising to enlighten him later.
Since then Caron had waited, and now it was more than time that
Mademoiselle made some sign. Or was it that neither Ombreval's
craven entreaties nor his own short message had affected her? Was
she wholly heartless and likely to prove as faithless to the
Vicomte in his hour of need as she had proved to him?
With a toss of the head he dismissed her from his thoughts, and
dipping his quill, he began to write.
>From the street came the dull roll of beaten drums and the rhythmical
fall of marching feet. But the sound was too common in revolutionary
Paris to arrest attention, and he wrote on, heeding it as little as
he did the gruff voice of a pastry-cook crying his wares, the
shriller call of a milkman, or the occasional rumblings of passing
vehicles. But of a sudden one of those rumblings ceased abruptly at
his door. He heard the rattle of hoofs and the grind of the wheel
against the pavement, and looking up, he glanced across at the ormolu
timepiece on his overmantel. It was not yet four o'clock.
Wondering whether the visitor might be for him or for the tenant of
the floor above, he sat listening until his door opened and his
official - the euphemism of "servant" in the revolutionary lexicon
- came to announce that a woman was below, asking to see him.
Now for all that he believed himself to have become above emotions
where Mademoiselle de Bellecour was concerned, he felt his pulses
quicken at the very thought that this might be she at last.
"What manner of woman, Brutus?" he asked.
"A pretty woman, Citizen," answered Brutus, with a grin. "It is
the Citoyenne Deshaix."
La Boulaye made an impatient gesture.
"Fool. why did you not say so," he cried sharply.
"Fool, you did not ask me," answered the servant, with that touching,
fraternal frankness adopted by all true patriots. He was a thin,
under-sized man of perhaps thirty years of age, and dressed in black,
with a decency - under La Boulaye's suasion - that was rather at
variance with his extreme democracy. His real name was Ferdinand,
but, following a fashion prevailing among the ultra-republicans, he
had renamed himself after the famous Roman patriot.
La Boulaye toyed a moment with his pen, a frown darkening his brow.
"Admit her," he sighed wearily.
And presently she came, a pretty woman, as Brutus had declared, very
fair, and with the innocent eyes of a baby. She was small of
stature, and by the egregious height of her plume-crowned head-dress
it would seem as if she sought by art to add to the inches she had
received from Nature. For the rest she wore a pink petticoat, very
extravagantly beflounced, and a pink corsage cut extravagantly low.
In one hand she carried a fan - hardly as a weapon against heat,
seeing that the winter was not yet out - in the other a huge bunch
of early roses.
"Te voile!" was her greeting, merrily - roguishly - delivered, and
if the Revolution had done nothing else for her, it had, at least,
enabled her to address La Boulaye by the "Thou" of intimacy which
the new vocabulary prescribed.
La Boulaye rose, laid aside his pen, and politely, if coolly,
returned her greeting and set a chair for her.
"You are," said he, "a very harbinger of Spring, Citoyenne, with
your flowers and your ravishing toilette."
"Ah! I please you, then, for once," said she without the least
embarrassment. "Tell me - how do you find me?" And, laughing, she
turned about that he might admire her from all points of view.
He looked at her gravely for a moment, so gravely that the laughter
began to fade from her eyes.
"I find you charming, Citoyenne," he answered at last. "You remind
me of Diana."
"Compliments?" quoth she, her eyebrows going up and her eyes beaming
with surprise and delight. "Compliments from La Boulaye! But
surely it is the end of the world. Tell me, mon ami," she begged,
greedily angling for more, "in what do I remind you of the sylvan
"In the scantiness of your raiment, Citoyenne," he answered acidly.
"It sorts better with Arcadia than with Paris."
Her eyebrows came down, her cheeks flushed with resentment and
discomfiture. To cover this she flung her roses among the papers of
his writing-table, and dropping into a chair she fanned herself
"Citoyenne, you relieve my anxieties," said he. "I feared that
you stood in danger of freezing."
"To freeze is no more than one might expect in your company," she
answered, stifling her anger.
He made no reply. He moved to the window, and stood drumming
absently on the panes. He was inured to these invasions on the part
of Cecile Deshaix and to the bold, unwomanly advances that repelled
him. To-day his patience with her was even shorter than its wont,
haply because when his official had announced a woman he had for a
moment permitted himself to think that it might be Suzanne. The
silence grew awkward, and at last he broke it.
"The Citizen Robespierre is well?" he asked, without turning.
"Yes," said she, and for all that there was chagrin to spare in
the glance with which she admired the back of his straight and
shapely figure, she contrived to render her voice airily indifferent.
"We were at the play last night."
"Ah!" he murmured politely. "And was Talma in veine?"
"More brilliant than ever," answered she.
"He is a great actor, Citoyenne."
A shade of annoyance crossed her face.
"Why do you always address me as Citoyenne?" she asked, with some
He turned at last and looked at her a moment.
"We live in a censorious world, Citoyenne," he answered gravely.
She tossed her head with an exclamation of impatience.
"We live in a free world, Citizen. Freedom is our motto. Is it for
nothing that we are Republicans?"
"Freedom of action begets freedom of words," said he, "and freedom
of words leads to freedom of criticism - and that is a thing to
which no wise woman will expose herself, no matter under what regime
we live. You would be well-advised, Citoyenne, in thinking of that
when you come here."
"But you never come to us, Caron," she returned, in a voice of mild
complaint. "You have not been once to Duplay's since your return
from Belgium. And you seem different, too, since your journey to
the army." She rose now and approached him. "What is it, cher
Caron?" she asked, her voice a very caress of seductiveness, her
eyes looking up into his. "Is something troubling you?"
"Troubling me?" he echoed, musingly. "No. But then I am a busy
A wave of red seemed to sweep across her face, and her heel beat
the parquet floor.